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Lucy Atkinson, PhD

Assistant Professor

Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations

Moody College of Communication

UT Austin

Teaching has invigorated every other part of my job as a professor. Interacting with students, especially undergrads, helps me rethink the research side of things, revisit my own assumptions about how things work, and re-evaluate what is really important.

In the most basic sense, my role as a teacher is to help students become comfortable with being uncomfortable. That is, I want my students to be OK with realizing they don’t know everything and, perhaps more important, that they don’t have to know everything. Instead, their responsibility as students is to question what they think they know, to engage with and challenge the course material, and to be receptive to new ways of approaching and evaluating information. All of this requires getting comfortable with the idea that rarely is there a perfect answer or solution to any question or situation. Instead, students must make friends with uncertainty, with ambiguity, with doubt. If they are able to do so, the reward is significant. Once students realize there is no single answer or magic solution, they are more likely to confront their own assumptions, to challenge the status quo, and to become nimble, critical thinkers.